It seems like, more often than not, when I go out for the night with a group, we end up starting dinner with a heaping plate of nachos. They really are the perfect way to feed a small army if you aren’t counting your calories. That is why we set out to find the best nachos in Chicago. While some of them follow the nacho guidelines to a T to produce some of the best appetizers around, others take the ground rules and build upon them to make some unique nacho pyramids infused with flavors that you wouldn’t typically find in a dish like this.
The Best Nachos in Chicago
US Cellular Field
333 W 35th St, Chicago, IL 60616
Perhaps one of the most iconic pieces of architecture in Chicago, US Cellular field serves up a heaping pile of nachos in a baseball helmet. Hence the name: Helmet Nachos. Aside from a stadium dog, not much is better than nachos and a beer during a ball game.
51 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654
Hub 51 steps up by offering a refreshing order of nachos. They load it with pulled chicken and top it with guacamole, salsa and finish it with cheddar and Oaxaca cheeses. Not only does the Oaxaca cheese provide a phenomenal flavor (close to Monterey Jack) but the guacamole lightens up the flavor immensely.
Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap
41 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611
Not only does Jake Melnick’s have some of the best wings in Chicago, but their nachos hold up against the competition. While you may expect them to take their succulent chicken and cover the nachos; instead, they go the pulled pork route. They top it with cheddar cheese, green onion, tomatoes, sour cream, jalapenos and their phenomenal Jake’s Famous BBQ sauce.
820 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607
Little Goat‘s Machos Nachos are just that, macho. They make their own masa chips, which makes a huge difference. They then top them with bbq pork, beans, pickled peppers, cheddar, sour cream, and avocado. The pickled peppers really stand out here.
2703 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
You can’t go wrong with either of the Mayan Palace nachos. Their Nachos Supreme accompanies all of the standard nachos fixings, but adds in steak– and it’s kind of hard to say no to steak. Their vegetarian nachos are the perfect, satisfying appetizer for non-meat eaters.
100 E Chestnut St, Chicago, IL 60611
One of the best nachos in Chicago belongs to Mike Ditka’s. What makes this one stand out so much is their use of pot roast– yes, pot roast nachos. With cheddar-jack, jalapeños, sour cream and tomatoes helping to accentuate the flavor, this is a combination of your grandma’s cooking and a late night gorge-fest.
Native Foods Cafe
If you aren’t familiar with Native Foods Cafe, they are a plant-based fast food restaurant– meaning that everything is either vegan or vegetarian. Nothing that I’ve ordered here has made me yearn for the meat equivalent– it’s so good. Their nachos here are vegan based, which means that if you opt for cheese, it’s a cashew cheese. Don’t fret; I make cashew cheese at home all the time and it’s amazing.
1027 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60607
Old Fifth takes on a Brazilian approach when it comes to nachos in Chicago. They dress the tortilla shells with slow-roasted pork shoulder (which is cooked to perfection), Brazilian black beans, pico de gallo, jalapenos, onion confit, a beautifully tasty avocado puree, aged white cheddar and Chihuahua cheese, and finish with a chipotle-lime sauce.
Rockit Bar & Grill
Rockit Bar & Grill holds a spot on the list of the best nachos in Chicago with their Lamb Nachos. It’s different, I like it. While some may be somewhat leery about eating lamb, this is a dish that can change your mind. I used to steer away as well– but lamb is juicy and loaded with flavor. They also use lavash chips, which are whole grain and baked, which gives these nachos more of an upscale personality over deep fried tortillas. They then top it all with feta fondue, greek olives, and tomatoes. It’s essentially a gyro nacho plate.
The Scout Waterhouse
1301 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60601
The Scout Waterhouse is one of our go-to spots when we have an appetite for one of the best grilled cheeses in Chicago; but, their nachos are another reason to visit. Their pile of nachos is coated with pulled chicken, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole and roasted tomato salsa. The richness of the guac, paired with the roasted flavor of the salsa really dance together in your mouth.
1804 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622
Smoke Daddy has some of the best bbq in Chicago. Which translates to some of the best nachos in Chicago. They allow you to choose which meat you want to accompany the nachos and fixings– pulled pork, burnt ends, brisket, ect. While I am always a fan of brisket, there truly is something special about their pulled pork nachos. If you haven’t visited Smoke Daddy before, be sure to try all of their sauces before you order to make sure your favorite is covering the nacho platter.
9 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654
Theory takes nachos to an upscale level. Rather than serving a massive pile of nachos where towards the end the toppings are all gone and all that’s left are chips (potentially soggy), they pay attention to each and every chip. Instead of this being chaos on a plate, they serve you a handful of chips– each thoughtfully laid out and attended to. Each of their homemade tortilla chips are perfectly topped with beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, chihuahua cheese and sour cream. You have the option of adding chicken, steak or shrimp. Get the steak.
622 N Fairbanks Ct, Chicago, IL 60611
Timothy O’Tooles serves up three types of nachos– with one of their nachos not really being nachos at all, but I’ll touch on that in a bit. If you want actual nachos, go for their pulled pork nachos with black beans, tomatoes, scallions, jalapenos, sour cream, salsa, and the best of all, beer cheese fondue. Beer cheese makes everything better.
If you are craving nacho-style toppings more than the tortillas themselves, get the Irish Nachos (aka loaded fries): french fries, melted cheese, bacon, scallions and sour cream.
501 N Ogden Ave, Chicago, IL 60642
This biker bar may serve up one of the best burgers in Chicago, but their nachos are a great way to wake up your tastebuds. The stars of their nachos are the pulled pork and the cheese. The pulled pork is coated in a flavor-loaded bbq sauce. They aren’t stingy with the portion of pork and it’s beyond tender. The cheese melting through the strings of pork and absorbing some of the bbq sauce creates harmony in your mouth with every bite.
2226 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
It’s no surprise that some of the best nachos in Chicago can be found at a phenomenal Mexican restaurant. Taqueria Moran takes on chicken nachos in a splendid fashion. What really pulls together the plate is the use of large jalapeno slices and salsa verde, with fresh guacamole and sour cream to cool things down a bit.
Zacatacos treats nachos in their simplest form– but that form is very enticing here. The main attraction is the steak. It’s very tender, grilled perfect, and has a lot of flavor (perhaps a slight smokey flavor). All that accompanies the tortillas other than that is guacamole, melted nacho cheese, jalapenos, and sour cream. While it may not seem like much, your tastebuds will beg to differ.
Did we miss your favorite nachos in Chicago? Let us know in the comments below.